Writer: Ollie Sheehan
Date:Saturday April 8 2006
Stadium of Light
Saturday, 8th April, 2006
Chris Coleman has again underlined his frustration at his Fulham side's inability to win away this season.
If there was ever a good chance to pick up his first away win of the season after picking up only points on the road throughout this campaign, then the Stadium of Light surely has to be the place to do it.
Chris Coleman on the prospect of not winning away for a whole season: 'It would be something that we could never put right afterwards. Once it's done, it's done.
'It's never happened to me before. I've suffered relegation, I've suffered being knocked out of semi-finals - F.A. Cup and Carling Cup - and it's a killer but that would be the worst for me if we went through the whole season without winning away from home.
'We can beat Chelsea but we can lose to the teams at the bottom, unfortunately, and that's why we haven't been in the top 10. Forget about injuries and suspensions, we've not been consistent enough', Coleman declared.
Kevin Ball: “Cookie is like the Scarlett Pimpernel at times because he never returns any phone-calls!
“I like him. I had a great time playing alongside him for Fulham, he was a terrific captain.
“He has come in and done really well as a manager although, like me, I expect the opportunity came up a lot sooner than he might have thought.”
The home side have plenty of injury worries ahead of today's clash. Kevin Kyle is out after scolding himself at home with hot water.
Meanwhile, Steve Caldwell, Julio Arca and Stephen Elliot have sustained hamstring injuries and are unlikely to feature.
Tommy Miller will also face a late fitness check.
Vital predicted line-up: Davis, Wright, McCartney, Breen, Hoyte, Delap, Lawrence, Whitehead, Le Tallec, Stead, Elliot
Hasn't quite had the season most expected after his impact for Blackburn last season. But he is always a danger and has a good eye for goal.
Fulham will be missing Mark Pembridge and Ian Pearce who are both carrying injuries while Michael Brown is suspended after his challenge on Sean Davis at the weekend. Claus Jensen is back in training but not fit enough to return to the first team.
On the up-side for Coleman Simon Elliot is fit and Antti Niemi will also return to replace Mark Crossley in goal. Papa Bouba Diop will finally return from injury at the Stadium of Light having just signed a new contract at the club, giving the fans plenty to cheer about.
Vital predicted line-up: Niemi, Rosenior, Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Malbranque, Boa Morte, Diop, Elliot, John, Helguson.
Papa has been out a long time and it will be a wonderful relief to Chris Coleman to see him back in the side he has bossed so well over the past two years. Expect him to have a pop at goal from long range and be fully involved in the battle in the middle of the park.
Sunderland have picked up just four points from 16 games at home this season of the eleven they have accrued since their return to the Premiership.
No team has ever gone an entire Premiership season without winning at home and Sunderland will be hoping not to put another blotch on their record as they look to avoid finishing lower than their's and the Premiership's previous lowest points tally of 18 points.
Sunderland have scored just nine goals at home this season and conceded 29.
Fulham on the other hand have only managed to pick up four points away from home and conceded 34 goals whilst scoring just 14 goals.
It should be a tight match with goals expected. Fulham are only second to Sunderland for conceding the most goals in the Premiership with 53, while Sunderland have managed 57.
Vital predicts a 2-1 win for Fulham. It has been too long coming but if there is anywhere where Fulham can pick up three poinjts away from home it is here!!
Date:Saturday April 8 2006
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